South Whidbey earns bi-district berth behind stingy defense / Soccer

With its back against the wall, the South Whidbey High School soccer team muscled its way to a 1-0 win over Granite Falls at Sultan in the district playoffs Saturday, Oct. 27, and into the bi-district tournament.

The win earned the Falcons the fifth and final seed out of district to the bi-district tournament. South Whidbey (9-7-2) will have to win three straight matches at bi-district to earn a state berth. The first contest is 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30, at Sammamish High School against Bush.

A win there sets up a match with Meridian Thursday, Nov. 1, at a time a place to be determined. That winner faces Seattle Academy at 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, at the Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila for a state berth.

The win over Granite Falls avenged a loss to the Tigers by the same 1-0 score Oct. 11 and gave South Whidbey a 2-1 edge in the three matches the schools played this season. The Falcons beat the Tigers 5-2 Oct. 4.

The Falcons leaned on their stout defense to claim the district win. Alison Papritz, on a nice passing sequence from Karyna Hezel and Ashley Ricketts, scored the match’s lone goal at the nine minute mark.

From that point — 70 minutes of action — South Whidbey limited the Tigers to three shots on goal.

“Our team played with intensity and matched Granite Falls physicality,” coach Terry Swanson said. “Many of our players have not fully recovered from early season injuries, yet they are playing 80 minutes with no breaks or complaints. Our players are tough and have a tremendous work ethic.”

The short-handed Falcons suited up only 12 players for the game and lost starter Mikenna Wicher to an injury in the first half.